Could decision not to investigate Superintendent cost taxpayers more?


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Could decision not to investigate Superintendent cost taxpayers more?

By Mike Mason. CREATED Apr 5, 2013 - UPDATED: Apr 5, 2013

 LEE COUNTY - Could the Lee County school board's decision not to investigate the Superintendent end up costing you? Board members who rejected the independent investigation said they didn't want to burden you with extra costs.  But now we're learning you may end up paying anyway because the state will conduct its own investigation. Four in your corner investigator mike mason is pushing the state for a price tag and who will be footing the bill.

Even though state officials asked the school district to conduct an investigation, board members decided not to. Now one of them fears that may end up costing taxpayers even more in the long run. 
Mike Mason: "What is the logic behind the board voting to go with the Inspector General instead?"
Jeanne Dozier: "I'm not real sure what the logic is."
The Lee County school board voted not to investigate Superintendent Joseph Burke during this week's meeting but Jeanne Dozier disagreed and feels this could come back to bite her fellow board members.
Jeanne Dozier: "I don't think it's going to look good on their part."
The Department of Education's office of Inspector General determined the district should launch an independent investigation into Burke. Burke's accused of suspending an active investigation into Deedara Hicks and misappropriating more than a million dollars. Board member Don Armstrong feels those allegations are bogus and the state should have to pick up the tab.
Don Armstrong: "Let the state flip the dime, I'm not going to flip the dime on taxpayers here in Lee County. It won't be on our dime it will be on their dime but instead there could be sanctions."
Dozier says the state's recommendation to have the district conduct the investigation wasn't really an option - it was more like a mandate and the decision not to do it could have serious consequences.
Jeanne Dozier: "He can go to the commissioner of education and say 'can you believe what these people did down there? This is the letter that I sent them and they refused to do the investigation? The Inspector General could come back and say you know, I'm going to fine you for not doing your due diligence as a board member to investigate this."
Jeanne Dozier hopes taxpayers won't be on the hook for anything more than the investigative costs, Armstrong feels this whole thing is a waste of time and money. 
Don Armstrong: "If the state feels that they want to look into something a little bit deeper, let them."
State officials won't tell us how much they expect the investigation to cost or if they even plan to pass those costs along to taxpayers.